Tropicalia documentary set for release in 2011

Despite being one of the most famous Brazilian art movements, no film has yet been made about Tropicalia. At least not until next year, when BossaNovaFilms (BR), associated with Revolution Films (UK) and Mojo Pictures (US), will release the first documentary revealing all facets of this late 1960’s bombastic movement.

The idea was born, curiously, from two young North American producers that went to Fernando Meirelles with their thoughts. Meirelles, the co-executive producer of the film, took the project to the director Marcelo Machado and then to Bossa Nova Films. Paula Cosenza, executive producer, brought Revolution on board.

The film intends to explore different angles of Tropicalia: Festivals in Brazil, the movement’s exile to London and the current interest in it. “Thinking about why these two guys from California were interested in Tropicalia, out of all the subjects they could talk about, is our biggest inspiration to make this film. Why does this movement from 40 years back still appeal to people internationally? Why is it so interesting?” Paula questions.

In partnership with Record Entretenimento, the team recovered rare film material from the 60’s and intend to mix file images with contemporary and international artists who are still being influenced by Tropicalia in a hope to reveal at least to some extent what makes Tropicalia what it was, and is.

Recently, Paula Cosenza and Marcelo Machado broadcasted, for the first time ever, small parts of the film at Southbank Centre as part of Festival Brazil. They made the most of the fact that they were here to shoot some takes in the city, where the frontrunners of Tropicalia-
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil- lived during their exile from Brazil. During the process of recovering material about Tropicalia in Britain, the team discovered what Machado considers significant material from the Isle of White Festival, when Gil and Caetano gave a psychedelic performance, which, according to Machado, paints a great picture of the 1970’s.

“London plays an important part in the film and in the Tropicalia movement. I think that by both choosing to live in London when they couldn’t be in their country says a lot about how much they were already influenced by what was going on in England. London is a very cosmopolitan place, interested in art from all over the world. I think that Caetano and Gil came here and learned a lot but, at the same time, they also gave a lot to the British cultural scene back then. And it was in London that many important things for their careers and lives took place. For example, Caetano started to record and perform playing the guitar here- before that it was only Gil who played- and they both went to see Jimmy Hendrix, Mile Davies and the Rolling Stones live. Imagine what a big deal that was at the time for them as musicians! And they played at the Queen Elizabeth Hall which was very important for their confidence. Back in Brasil they used to talk about a universal sound- here they were able to really experience and practice that, it was an essential experience for them”, says Machado.

So, keep an eye out as the film will be internationally released next year and promises to paint a colourful picture of Tropicalia in the 1960’s and today, in Brazil and throughout the world.

By Júlia Frate
Photo: Marcelo Machado, director of Tropicália, in the Centro de Documentação da Record (Cedoc), observing the restoration of a tape from the 1960s. Credit: TV Record/Antônio Chahestian

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